Concept Development and Quality of Feedback—these two CLASS dimensions used to elicit a sense of fear in me, and I suspect they do for other early childhood educators, too. The fear came from hearing the average teacher’s scores in these dimensions, confusing the two dimensions, and from knowing how important they are to impacting children’s cognitive development.
Well, fear can paralyze you and shut you down—or it can wake you up and get you moving. I chose to wake up and get moving by remembering the importance of these two dimensions and how to keep them straight.
This dimension focuses on the process of learning, how higher-order thought processes are promoted, and how much thinking is going on. When effective Concept Development is happening, teachers help children find answers themselves. Children are learning how to think (versus rote recall). In Concept Development, there are no wrong answers. Teachers guide children to make connections to what they’ve already learned, connect to the real world, and encourage children to understand and think!
Points to remember about Concept Development:
Quality of Feedback is in response to what children say or do. It is the quality of the response (or feedback) that is given to children. In this dimension, teachers keep children thinking, keep children going, and keep children learning. When a teacher has effective Quality of Feedback, they promote learning without children feeling like they are being pushed. It is specific, in the moment, and encourages a child to learn more.
Points to remember about Quality of Feedback:
The depth and effectiveness of both Concept Development and Quality of Feedback prepare children for the learning they will have to do after they leave Pre-K. When teachers initiate higher-order thinking skills they set the stage for children to analyze, create, and solve problems. And teachers who provide effective feedback expand children’s learning, understanding, and participation! Isn’t that what matters?
Keep these key points in mind, and you too will keep these commonly confused dimensions straight! I’d love to hear how you remember the differences between Concept Development and Quality of Feedback. Share your comments below!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2015, but has since been revised to keep the content relevant and accurate.
Have you ever wished for a magical power that helped you take notes super effectively while conducting CLASS observations? The kind of magical power that would allow you to capture everything you see and hear without missing a beat? The kind of magical power that paints an exact picture of what happened in the classroom without actually being there? Yeah, me too!
As I sat in on an Infant Train-the-Trainer session, participants reflected on their previous experiences with CLASS: learning about it, using it to observe classrooms, supporting teachers, and training others to observe. One participant spoke up:
“CLASS is a measure you have to get wrong to get right.”
CLASS Specialists are always thinking about the complexity of the CLASS tool as we prepare for our trainings. As a trained CLASS observer, I am comfortable observing and recognizing quality interactions that fit in the tool. But I needed a strategy to convey this information to those who may not be as familiar with the tool.
As it turns out, using an analogy is a perfect way to make the complex relatable, less overwhelming, and more familiar to our participants.
Have you ever meditated? One of the most challenging aspects of this practice is clearing your mind from day-to-day thoughts that pop into your head. If you meditate, you know that trying to push those thoughts away doesn’t work—in order to free your mind you must first acknowledge those distracting thoughts before you can return to your “moment of zen.”